'Leading out England is too far-fetched' says Phil Jagielka

Monday 12 Oct 2015
Phil Jagielka will lead out England for the first time

Phil Jagielka says the idea of leading England out has not been on his mind, but he cannot wait to wear the captain's armband for Monday's Euro 2016 Qualifier in Lithuania. 

The Three Lions wrap up their successful Group E campaign on Monday night in Vilnius, with the Everton man standing in as skipper in place of the absent Wayne Rooney and Gary Cahill.

And Jagielka is only concerned with England wrapping up the group with a 100 per cent record.

Lithuania v England

UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier
Group E
7.45pm (BST), Monday 12 October 2105
Watch live on ITV 1

"I have been delighted to wear the armband in games before, leading up to the World Cup and the San Marino game, but I have never had the opportunity to lead a side out," he revealed.

"It is something I do on a regular basis at home with my club but to do it for my country it did not even seem like a dream. It was that far-fetched.

"Growing up I just wanted to be a footballer – captaining the country would be something you never thought about."

He continued: "If you look at the different milestones it is something you can tell the kids.

"I am sure a lot of people who have played a part in my career along the way will be absolutely delighted for me.

"They have helped me succeed in one of the biggest achievements you can have as a footballer."

Victory on Monday would mean England finish their campaign with a 100 per cent record for the first time in a qualification group.

Despite their disappointing World Cup in Brazil last year, England began their games on the road to France with confidence and picked up an important opening win away in Switzerland.

Roy Hodgson and Phil Jagielka speak to the press

And Jagielka believes that victory was the catalyst for the team's current form, which has seen them win nine games on the bounce and concede only three goals.

"After the disappointment of the World Cup, there was a lot of head-scratching and a lot of things we had to sort out," said the former Sheffield United man.

"A lot of people questioned the group we got for the qualifying campaign and it could have gone either way. 

"In our first game against Switzerland, I think they were eighth in the rankings at the time and it was going to be a difficult game.

"Ever since we performed so well in that game we gave the lads the confidence, belief and togetherness to keep the ball rolling."

Jagielka added: "We have had difficult games both competitive and non-competitive in the times leading up to this.

"Everyone has come in and performed fantastically well for the team and it is nice that the ones here can go out and perform and hopefully finish off things in style."

England's next home game is against Euro 2016 hosts France at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday 17 November. You can get tickets online now via TheFA.com/tickets

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor In Vilnius